If you’ve ever seen the band live, you’ll have come to expect a consistently spirited live show, driven by the unapologetic energy of frontwoman Maz DeVita.
Just days before WAAX embark on a huge national tour in support of the new single, we had a chat with Maz about facing the past, leaving everything on the stage, and how Splendour In The Grass changed her life.
“We all play music to let something out of ourselves… it’s always been a way to feel better about life”: We chat with WAAX about their new single and the importance of playing Splendour In The Grass.
HAPPY: Maz, G’day… cheers for having a chat with us
MAZ: Hey, no worries at all man, all good.
HAPPY: Congrats on getting out the new single – it’s really great – how’s the reception been so far?
MAZ: Yeah, the receptions been really great… it’s probably the best reception we’ve gotten off a single, so we really couldn’t ask for anything more, it’s been a blessing. It’s been beautiful.
HAPPY: In the song you deal with some pretty heavy subject matter… could you tell us a bit about it?
MAZ: Yep so it’s kind of like the first time I’ve explored my past in the song-writing realm. Each kind of release we’ve done has been an exploration of what I can look into lyrically – like the first EP was kind of more external and what’s happening around me, the second EP was like things that are happening right at the moment, and I guess I’m starting now to look back on the past… so Labrador’s more about my late teens I suppose. I spent a lot of time there, in Labrador, the suburb, so I guess a lot of significant events happened there that shaped me to where I am today.
HAPPY: Does it ever get difficult writing about these things?
MAZ: No, not really. I find it’s kind of like my strength. I suppose the one thing I always have to think about is the repercussions of doing it… I mean to talk about it. But you know, I’m happy to do that… like in general I’m a pretty shy person, but in song writing that’s kind of all my personality on a platter. So yeah, music’s kind of helped me open up about that sort of thing.
HAPPY: You’ve mentioned that around that time the song was written about, you’d stopped playing music…
MAZ: Yeah, so I thought I was completely worthless, and I wasn’t good enough at anything. And I had all these people around me, myself included, saying that I had empty hopes, I suppose. I just wanted to stop doing creative stuff, so I threw my guitar at the wall of my bedroom and decided I’ve got nothing to offer. It was really a low point, and it really took a lot to get out of that. I’d slumped into an eating disorder, and things like that. It was a big moment for me, because I came out of that when I was about 19 or 20, and I didn’t talk about it up until now really. It’s been really hard for me to discuss, because I was really ashamed of it. But I can now talk about it because it was a number of years ago… and yeah, it was a thing that happened to me. I still think about it. It still affects me, but now I can talk about it without wanting to cry.
HAPPY: The song, to me, feels very cathartic… do you feel a sense of a sense of catharsis in writing or performing a track like Labrador?
MAZ: Yeah definitely. That’s kind of why we do it, I suppose. We all play music to let something out of ourselves. I’ve always used song writing as a means to do that and yeah, I’ve been doing it since I was thirteen or something. So yeah, it’s always been a way to feel better about life I guess.
HAPPY: And your live show is one of the most spirited, intense shows going around at the moment… when you’re writing these tracks, how much of a consideration is the live aspect?
MAZ: Oh, so much. First and foremost, when we first started as a band, we were more concerned about the performance. We had no idea what we were doing, and I didn’t think of myself as a serious song-writer, and neither did the rest of the band. We just wanted to scream and play and just have a good time. Elements of that still bleed in to the way we write now, but obviously we are a lot more considerate about the recording process, and all those sorts of things. It’s been an evolution of a marriage between our recording style and our performance style.
HAPPY: As you’ve grown as a band, the touring schedule’s obviously gotten a lot more full-on… do you still have the same passion for your live show that you had when you first started?
MAZ: Yeah, I do. I think the way I see it has sort of changed a little bit. We’re a lot more serious about what we’re doing now. Like when you first start out, you don’t really know what to expect – you kind of just go in there and hope for the best. Now it’s part of our lives. It’s a full-time job in itself. I see it as, I guess… I still feel the same way I did when I first started. Especially when I’m on the stage, that’s the same feeling. I guess the stuff around it has changed. But I feel most myself when I’m on stage for sure.
HAPPY: Speaking of your live show… this year you’ll be playing Splendour In The Grass, I believe for the first time…
MAZ: Yes! It’s huge.
HAPPY: What does something like this mean to you and the band? Getting that nod…
MAZ: Like everything! When I was like 19, I was at Splendour In The Grass, and I’d just pulled myself out of that slump and I decided I was going to get back on the horse with song-writing and doing music, and I’d started playing in bands again. I was, at the time, too shy to sing my own songs. But I was at Splendour – I think it was 2012 – and I was watching some band, I can’t remember who it was, but I was like “I can do that, I wanna do this,” and it was from that moment onwards that I flicked the switch, and I decided that as soon as I get my band together, I will get on that stage within five years. And it’s been exactly five years.
HAPPY: That’s incredible…
MAZ: I guess I kind of self-prophesized something… I don’t know if it was because I was cooked as hell… I dunno.
HAPPY: Don’t worry, I’m sure I’ll be cooked as hell watching you guys this year…
MAZ: (laughs) You just go out and get it man… go for it!
HAPPY: Are there any other acts playing that you’re excited to catch?
MAZ: I’m so excited to see Soccer Mommy. I found her like on a random Rolling Stone podcast, and she was amazing. I’ve been smashing her new record relentlessly. Umm, MGMT, we’ve all been huge fans of theirs. Kendrick, obviously, that’ll just be awesome. Our mates West Thebarton will be there, which is gonna be sick… I’m pretty sure this is one of the best lineups I’ve ever seen, so I’m really stoked that we got the chance to be on it. We’re really thankful.
HAPPY: And finally, what can expect from you guys going forward? Any new tunes in the works?
MAZ: Yeah yeah, we’re working on some stuff. We’re not entirely sure what’s gonna happen next, but we’re definitely in the writing stages. We’ll definitely keep you posted on that. But hopefully there’s a record soon… I hope.
HAPPY: Well I’m certainly keen to hear it. Cheers for chatting!
WAAX’s new single Labrador is out now, and catch the band live at any of the following dates:
Supporting Biffy Clyro
Friday 27th April Forum Theatre, Melbourne, VIC
Sunday 29th Eatons Hill, Brisbane, QLD
Monday 30th April Enmore Theatre, Sydney, NSW
WAAX ‘Labrador’ Single Tour
FRI 11 MAY | MIAMI SHARK BAR, GOLD COAST QLD w/ Crum, Deluso & Cake
THU 31 MAY | ED CASTLE, ADELAIDE SA w/ Siamese
FRI 01 JUN | THE SEWING ROOM, PERTH WA w/ Sly Withers
SAT 02 JUN | THE ODD FELLOW, FREMANTLE WA w/ Sly Withers
FRI 08 JUN | RAD, WOLLONGONG NSW w/ Moaning Lisa
SAT 09 JUN | THE LAIR, SYDNEY NSW (AA EARLY SHOW – DOORS 4.45PM) w/ Moaning Lisa
SAT 09 JUN | THE LAIR, SYDNEY NSW (18+ EVENING SHOW) w/ Moaning Lisa
SUN 10 JUN | THE CAMBRIDGE, NEWCASTLE NSW (LONG WEEKEND PARTY) w/ Northeast Party House, Antonia & The Lazy Susans, and Dave
WED 13 JUN | BARWON CLUB, GEELONG VIC w/ Moaning Lisa
THU 14 JUN | PELLY BAR, FRANKSTON VIC w/ Moaning Lisa
FRI 15 JUN | NORTHCOTE SOCIAL CLUB, MELBOURNE VIC w/ Moaning Lisa
SAT 16 JUN | THE ZOO, BRISBANE QLD w/ Moaning Lisa
SPLENDOUR IN THE GRASS 2018 – Friday 20 July, Saturday 21 July and Sunday 22 July – North Byron Parklands